Best Travel Credit Card Canada

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Credit cards with travel rewards programs might help you earn points and discounts that you can use toward vacation. In addition, you may get free nights at your favourite hotels or airline tickets. These cards come with a slew of perks and rewards that can help you take advantage of your spending habits, such as complimentary upgrades to first-class seats, access to exclusive airport lounges, and free meals.

Credit cards, like clothing, aren’t one-size-fits-all. We’ve already said it: the best card for you saves you money through a low interest rate, a balance transfer offer, or cashback or one that delivers value through rewards points that can be used for retail and travel.

You can’t beat travel credit cards if you want the best of the best for credit card rewards. But these cards are impressive in more ways than just their rewards. They also offer terrific insurance packages, premium perks, and massive sign-up bonuses. In addition, you might earn reward points for everyday purchases and travel-related expenses with a travel credit card.

There are some essential points to remember about travel credit cards and the features that may be most relevant to you while planning your dream vacation.

What are the advantages of using a travel credit card?

Benefits meant to enhance your travel experiences, such as miles, points that you can redeem for hotel room upgrades, flights, and no foreign transaction fees, are available with general travel, airline, or hotel credit cards.

How do I choose the best travel rewards credit card?

When choosing the ideal credit card, consider the rewards, bonuses, and appropriate features for your lifestyle and spending habits. For example, for earning and redeeming points, it is known that general travel cards provide a lot of versatility, and you may use your rewards with a range of airline and hotel chains. Furthermore, airline and hotel credit cards offer loyalty programs through which your points can be worth a lot of money—plus, you’ll be able to take advantage of discounts and experiences only available to loyalty members. So enjoy the fantastic savings, convenience, and comfort that come with whichever travel card you choose.

With a decent travel credit card in your name, taking a trip can suddenly become cheaper.  And if you sign up for the appropriate travel credit card—one that doesn’t simply focus on points but also includes features like lounge access, excellent insurance coverage, and the ability to transfer points between cards—you can receive even more value.

The CardCard you choose should be based on the type of travel you enjoy, how you use your credit card (and what purchases), and which additional travel benefits fit your lifestyle. To help you pick the perfect CardCard, we’ve compiled a list of Canada’s best travel credit cards. Below are some of Canada’s best travel credit cards to make your next vacation much cheaper (or possibly free).

Best credit card for travel points

American Express Cobalt® Card

You can earn about 50,000 bonus points worth up to $1,000. With 5x the rewards at grocery stores, restaurants, and bars, the American Express Cobalt Card is the perfect credit card not just for millennials. In addition, with Amex Membership Rewards at your disposal for travel, it makes for a top travel credit card.

  • Welcome bonus: Up to 30,000 bonus points (2,500 points per monthly billing cycle if you spend up to $500 in net purchases on your card in your first year), plus a 20,000-point bonus if you spend $3,000 in purchases during the first three months of owning the CardCard.
  • Interest: 20.99% on purchases,
  • Cash Advance: 21.99%
  • Rewards rate: about 4.5%
  • Favourite features: Big points bonuses on dining and groceries; access to the Amex Fixed Points Travel Program; free secondary cardholders
  • Annual fee: $155.88

If you desire the best rewards credit card for travel points, the American Express Cobalt® Card is an easy choice.

Watch your travel points pile up with these earn rates:

  • 1 point for every $1 spent on purchases
  • Two points for every $1 spent on gas, transit, and travel. Getting 2 points for every $1 spent on travel is good. Travel here typically refers to flights, hotels, and vacation packages, but this CardCard also includes gas, taxis, public transportation, and trips with Uber. For people who are frequent flyers, always on the move, this reward is twice as much as what you’d earn on other credit cards on flights and hotel stays.
  • 3 points for every $1 spent on streaming services
  • Five points for every $1 spent on groceries and restaurants (including drinks and fast foods). The American Express Cobalt card is ideal for individuals who eat out, with a fantastic earning rate of 5 points for every $1 spent on food and drinks—and the dining category is comprehensive, including bars, restaurants, grocery stores and even meal delivery services.

In addition, you can have access to the Fixed Points Travel Program, which allows you to optimize your points fully on round-way flights). Hotel transfer partners, American Express Invites, and a solid travel insurance package—but remember that trip cancellation insurance is not included. Also, you can include other authorized cardholders for no charge. Other features include Baggage delay insurance, Car rental insurance, Baggage loss insurance, Purchase Assurance, Travel emergency medical, Flight delay insurance, Price protection, and Travel accident insurance. So if you want it, you can use your travel points to suit your preferences.

And with American Express Membership Rewards travel points worth up to 2 cents each, that’s a return of up to 10% on your grocery and restaurant spend – the highest in Canada right now.

If that isn’t enough, just for signing up, you’ll get a welcome bonus of 50,000 points – 30,000 points after spending $500 every month for the first year and 20,000 points after spending $3,000 in the first three months.

While earning lots of points is excellent, having multiple ways to redeem your points with great value makes this one of the best travel credit cards.

The best way is to transfer your points to Aeroplan, worth up to 2 cents each.

Other ways that you can redeem your points include:

  • any travel booked from any provider
  • vacation packages and hotel stays

Redemption flexibility is high. You can redeem points against an eligible purchase charged to your CardCard.

Unlike Mastercards and Visas, all American Express travel credit cards have no minimum income requirements, putting this CardCard within reach of most people with good credit.

Even the annual fee of $155.88 is more manageable than a $12.99 monthly payment.

Best travel rewards Visa

RBC Avion Visa Infinite

Offer extended: Earn 35,000 bonus points

Get high-value flexible flight rewards and the option to boost reward value by transferring your points to miles in 3 airline rewards programs with the RBC Avion Visa Infinite.

  • Welcome bonus: Up to 35,000 extra points, worth up to $750, are available for use in future travel plans, and the points do not expire. Apply by April 18, 2022.
  • Purchase Rate: 19.99%
  • Cash Advance: 22.99%
  • Rewards rate: about 2.36%
  • Annual fee: $120

You can earn 1 RBC Rewards point for every dollar you spend. In addition, there are no blackout periods or seat restrictions – ever!

Note: This CardCard requires a minimum personal income of $60,000 or a minimum household income of $100,000. Please note this premium card can impose higher acceptance costs on merchants.

For Visa lovers, the RBC Avion Visa Infinite offers plenty of different ways to use points for travel. But in this case, what each point is worth matters. And you’ve got a few high-value options with RBC Rewards. The best way, though, is with the Air Travel Redemption chart. You can fly to a set zone for a set amount of points. Below is a summary of the worth of each point.

Type of Flight: Long-haul Canada & US (not including Alaska & Hawaii)

Points Required: 35,000

Max Ticket Price: $750

Max Point Value: 2.1 cents

Type of Flight: Short-haul Canada & US (between neighbouring provinces & states)

Points Required: 15,000

Max Ticket Price: $350

Max Point Value: 2.33 cents

Type of Flight: Eastern Canada to Mexico, Alaska, Hawaii; Western Canada to Caribbean & Central America

Points Required: 55,000

Max Ticket Price: $1100

Max Point Value: 2 cents

Type of Flight: Western Canada to Mexico, Alaska, Hawaii; Eastern Canada to Caribbean & Central America

Points Required: 45,000

Max Ticket Price: $900

Max Point Value: 2 cents

Type of Flight: Europe (must travel from a major gateway in Canada & US)

Points Required: 65,000

Max Ticket Price: $1300

Max Point Value: 2 cents

Type of Flight: Rest of the world (must travel from a major gateway in Canada & US)

Points Required: 100,000

Max Ticket Price: $2000

Max Point Value: 2 cents

The above gives a return of up to 2.33% on your spending. In addition, some airline transfer options are available to you, such as Cathay Pacific, American AAdvantage, British Airways, and WestJet.

Conclusively, you can also redeem for any travel booked through RBC, where 100 points will give you $1 off. All this choice is just for an annual fee of $120.

Best travel rewards Mastercard

MBNA Rewards World Elite® Mastercard®

Offers Comprehensive insurance, earning flexible rewards on all your purchases, and premium perks are just a few things the MBNA Rewards World Elite Mastercard® has to offer.

  • Welcome bonus: up to 30,000 bonus points (Approx for the first 90 days). $245 in cash back. You can get 10,000 for registering for paperless e-statements, and 20,000 for spending $2,000 in purchases with the CardCard. (Not available for residents of Quebec).
  • Rewards rate: around 2.6%
  • Purchase Interest: 99%
  • Cash Advance: 24.99%
  • Income requirement: $80,000 / $150,000 as a household
  • Annual fee: $120
  • Favourite features: You can earn points at a fantastic but straightforward flat rate; flexible point redemption, with better-than-average value on gift card redemptions; cardholders enjoy double the written warranty coverage on most purchases, Car rental insurance, and discounts at Avis Rent a Car and Budget Rent a Car.

Look no further than the MBNA Benefits World Elite® Mastercard® if you want a Mastercard with travel rewards. People who wish to get dependable, flexible benefits from their travel card but still want to keep things simple. You might not need to be frugal with your spending or consider bonus categories because you’ll get 2 points for $1 on anything. It’s also likely one of the most acceptable options for Costco customers because it’s a Mastercard that earns twice as many reward points as most other travel cards and does so across the board. In addition, if you spend at least $2,000 during the first 90 days, you’ll get 20,000 bonus points, which can be worth up to $200 depending on how you redeem them. If you’re saving up for anything major, you can rest easy knowing that points don’t expire. You can also boost points-earning potential by adding up to nine authorized card users in your household or family at no additional cost. It is also one of the best credit cards for dining at restaurants.

It doesn’t have the fanciest rewards – they can’t be transferred or used with an air travel redemption chart, but you’ll rack up the points at these rates:

  • 1 point for every $1 spent on purchases
  • 5 points for every $1 spent on groceries, restaurants, digital media, household utility and membership purchases, and select recurring bills (up to $50,000 spent annually per category)

Each MBNA Rewards point is worth 1 cent when redeemed for travel, giving a return of up to 5% on travel.

Based on a typical $2,000 monthly spend, you’re looking at roughly $624 in annual rewards, an amount not easily matched by other credit cards on any travel booking—all for a yearly fee of $120.

The redemption system is flexible: 100 points are worth $1 in travel incentives (or 1 percent return). The reward points earned may be exchanged for other gift cards (including some e-gift cards that will enable you to avoid the shipping costs of receiving a physical card). At 0.9 cents per point, the rate of return is also outstanding; most other travel cards do not offer as good a deal on gift card redemptions.

Unfortunately, this CardCard under-delivers on its provided travel insurance compared to competitors’ offerings. You’ll get lost documents and ticket replacement, lost luggage, and legal assistance, but there’s no travel medical insurance included.

Best travel credit card with no foreign exchange fees

Scotiabank Gold American Express® Card

You can earn up to 40,000 bonus points

Scotiabank Gold American Express is a top flexible reward credit card with best-in-class multipliers across broad spending categories, including groceries, restaurants, entertainment, gas, and transit. Even better? You have seven options for redeeming your points for varying value, plus many included benefits. For example, it allows you to earn up to 40,000 bonus Scene+ points in your first year (that’s up to $400 for travel). In addition, the annual fee in the first year is waived, including on supplementary cards. In addition, you can get a 0.00% introductory interest rate on balance transfers for the first six months (22.99% after that; annual fee $120) (1% balance transfer fee). It’s our choice of no foreign transaction fee credit card in Canada.

  • 5 pts for every $1 on groceries, dining & entertainment
  • Three pts for every $1 on gas, transit & streaming services
  • 1 pt for every $1 on everything else

1 pt = 1% in travel rewards

  • Welcome bonus: Spend $1,000 on everyday purchases in the first three months to earn up to 40,000 Scene and travel points. You can also earn an extra 20,000 points in your first year if you spend $7,500 on daily goods. You can apply by January 1, 2022.
  • Rewards rate: around 2.3%
  • Purchase Interest:99%
  • Cash Advance:99%
  • Income requirement: $12,000
  • Favourite features: a flexible points program, Big points bonuses on groceries and dining, no foreign transaction fees, discount on Priority Pass Lounge Access,  American Express Invites.
  • Travel insurance: Coverage includes medical trip cancellations, travel emergencies, trip interruptions, flight delays, travel accidents, and more, delayed and lost baggage.
  • Balance transfer promo: 0% for 6 months
  • FX feature: 0% FX fee
  • Annual fee: $120, 1st year free

Many travel rewards are great, but if you frequently travel outside of Canada, every other credit card on this list will charge you an extra 2.5% on purchases made in a foreign currency.

Want to save on this fee? Then look at the Scotiabank Gold American Express® Card. You’ll save 2.5% on every purchase made in foreign currencies because the fee is waived entirely.

Scotiabank credit cards are part of the Scotia Rewards program, a flexible program that lets users earn points for vacation, retail, or even a cash credit on their account. While these options are excellent, this CardCard is most recognized for assisting Canadian travellers. Cardholders can book flights on any airline through the Scotia Rewards Travel portal or another site where points are applied, and statement credit is earned. Five thousand points are worth $50 for travel in both circumstances. There’s also no foreign currency translation fee, which means you’ll avoid paying the 2.5 to 3 percent that most credit cards impose on international purchases.

Travel insurance is available with Scotiabank Gold American Express for up to 25 days per trip (3 days for seniors). In addition, the CardCard entitles you to access presale concert tickets with the American Express Front of the Line service.

And you’ll earn plenty of flexible Scotia Rewards points on your purchases as well:

  • 1 point for every $1 spent on other purchases
  • 3 points per $1 spent on gas, transit, and select streaming services
  • Five points per $1 spent on groceries, restaurants, and entertainment.

Throw in plenty of insurance benefits and Scotiabank’s welcome bonus of 40,000 points, and it’s a great overall travel credit card. The Scotiabank Passport Visa Infinite card (TM) wins a significant point in our book because it offers many perks for a hefty annual fee.

Best no annual fee travel credit card

American Express® Green Card

You can earn 10,000 bonus points for no annual fee.

The American Express Green Card is a no-fee travel card that lets you spend your points as easily as you earn them. Redeem your points for travel bookings or cash rewards.

  • Welcome bonus: up to 10,000 bonus points
  • Rewards rate: around 2%
  • Purchase Interest: 99%
  • Cash Advance: 21.99%
  • Annual fee: $0

Would you prefer not to pay an annual fee? Don’t spend enough to justify one? Our top no-fee alternative is the American Express® Green Card.

Why? It’s all in the rewards. For no fee, you’ll only earn 1 point per $1 spent on all purchases. But, considering that each Amex point is worth about 2 cents, it’s a return of up to 2% on your spending.

There aren’t any other credit cards offering up to 2% back on all purchases for no annual fee.

Best travel credit card with premium perks

American Express® Gold Rewards Card

You can earn up to 25,000 – 60,000 points worth up to $1,200.

Convert your points 1:1 to airline miles and get $1200 worth of free flights from the 60,000 points sign-up bonus with the American Express Gold Rewards Card.

  • Welcome bonus: up to 60,000 bonus points
  • Rewards rate: around 2.75%
  • Purchase Interest: 99%
  • Cash Advance: 21.99%
  • Annual fee: $250

Want a few premium perks to go with your travel rewards? Then, the American Express® Gold Rewards Card is your ticket to high rewards and bonuses.

First, here’s what you’ll earn on your daily purchases:

  • Two points for every $1 spent on gas, groceries, drugstores, and travel
  • One point for every $1 spent on other purchases

With this CardCard, you’ve got the full suite of Amex Membership Rewards redemptions at your disposal. It means each point is worth up to 2 cents, for a max return of up to 4% on your purchases.

Some perks come with this CardCard. Here are the major ones you’ll get:

  • $100 annual travel credit,
  • Priority Pass membership (each visit costs US$32),
  • Four complimentary passes annually to Plaza Premium lounges in Canada and
  • $50 NEXUS application rebate every four years.

Just note the annual fee of $250, but it has no income requirements.

Best travel credit card with a companion voucher

Alaska Airlines Platinum Plus® Mastercard®

A new Alaska Airlines Platinum Plus® Mastercard® credit card from MBNA could take you places. If approved, you could receive new Alaska Airlines benefits and start earning more Mileage Plan™ miles.

  • Welcome bonus: up to 20,000 bonus miles
  • Rewards rate: around 2.3%
  • Purchase Interest: 99%
  • Cash Advance: 22.99%
  • Annual fee: $75

A companion voucher is one way to save some big bucks on a trip potentially. They’re pretty simple to use. All you do is buy one ticket for yourself and bring someone else with you for a set fee, plus standard taxes and fees.

And the best credit card with a companion voucher may surprise you – the Alaska Airlines Platinum Plus® Mastercard®.

Why this one? It’s the cheapest companion voucher around – costing only US$99 plus taxes and fees anywhere Alaska Airlines flies. For example, leave from a US airport, and the taxes and fees start at just US$22. It’s a super cheap flight for a travelling companion.

With the voucher, this CardCard earns you 1 mile for every $1 spent (valued at up to 2.3 cents each), comes with a sign-up bonus worth up to $460, and includes seven types of insurance.

And the best part of this comes with a low annual fee of $75 and no income requirements. It is an alternative credit card with a companion voucher.

How do we get Travel credit card rankings?

How do we decide what the best travel credit cards are? First, we consider over 126 features of each CardCard, broken down into seven main categories: Rewards, Approval, Fees, Insurance, Interests, Perks, and Acceptance. Since we’re talking about the best travel credit cards, we give particular preference to the rewards category, as it’s the primary feature we’re after for cards on this page. They will be found on my list of the best cashback credit cards and the best credit cards in Canada with no foreign transaction fees.

When searching for the best travel credit card in Canada, several key factors must be considered to ensure you choose a card that aligns with your travel habits and financial goals. Here’s what to look for:

  1. Reward Points or Miles: Evaluate how the card accumulates rewards. Some cards offer points or miles that can be redeemed for flights, hotel stays, or other travel-related expenses. Consider the earning rate (how many points or miles you get per dollar spent) and ensure it aligns with your spending patterns.
  2. Sign-Up Bonuses: Many travel credit cards offer attractive sign-up bonuses. Look for cards that provide a substantial number of bonus points or miles after meeting initial spending requirements, as this can significantly boost your rewards balance.
  3. Redemption Flexibility: Check the flexibility in redeeming your points or miles. Some cards may have blackout dates or limited seat availability for flights. Cards that allow you to book travel through any airline or hotel provide greater flexibility.
  4. Foreign Transaction Fees: If you travel internationally, it’s crucial to consider the foreign transaction fees charged by the card. Some travel credit cards offer no foreign transaction fees, which can save you a significant amount of money.
  5. Travel Insurance: Comprehensive travel insurance coverage is a vital feature. Look for cards that offer travel medical insurance, trip cancellation/interruption insurance, baggage loss/delay insurance, and car rental insurance.
  6. Additional Travel Benefits: Perks like airport lounge access, priority boarding, free checked bags, or concierge services can enhance your travel experience. Consider which of these benefits are most important to you.
  7. Annual Fee: Weigh the benefits of the card against its annual fee. In some cases, the value of the rewards and benefits can far outweigh the cost of the fee, but this is not always the case.
  8. Interest Rates: While paying off your credit card balance each month is best, it’s still important to be aware of the interest rates, especially if you occasionally carry a balance.
  9. Partner Airlines and Hotels: If you prefer certain airlines or hotel chains, look for a card that partners with them or offers greater rewards for bookings made with these partners.
  10. Credit Score Requirement: Ensure that you meet the credit score requirements for the card. Premium travel credit cards often require a good to excellent credit score.
  11. Customer Service: Good customer service can be invaluable, especially when encountering travelling issues. Look for cards with a reputation for excellent customer support.
  12. Overall Value: Finally, assess the overall value of the card. Consider how its benefits align with your travel habits and whether it will help you achieve your travel goals without unnecessary costs.

By carefully considering these factors, you can select a travel credit card in Canada that offers the best value and aligns with your specific travel needs and spending habits.

Best travel credit cards head-to-head

Still not sure which of these travel credit cards is right for you? Maybe this will help.

We’ve put these cards side-by-side based on some of the more important things to remember when deciding which credit card might be best for you.

Estimated welcome bonus value

If you’re the sort of person who enjoys credit card churning to maximize your welcome bonus rewards, the top choices for you are pretty straightforward.

  • American Express Cobalt Card – $1000
  • RBC Avion Visa Infinite – $816
  • Scotiabank Gold American Express Card – $400
  • MBNA Rewards World Elite Mastercard – $300
  • American Express Green Card – $200

Annual fee

Maybe you’re concerned about whether the annual fee is worth it. There’s a clear choice for you here as well. The Amex Green Card has no annual fee but still offers quite a lot of value in terms of the welcome bonus, an average rate of return, and insurance.

  • American Express Green Card – $0
  • RBC Avion Visa Infinite – $120
  • Scotiabank Gold American Express Card – $120
  • MBNA Rewards World Elite Mastercard – $120
  • American Express Cobalt Card – $155.88

The average rate of return

We looked at how these travel credit cards stack up in terms of the average rate of return you’ll get for your spending.

These numbers are based on a typical $2,000 per month spend and the estimated maximum value of each reward point or mile.

Here is where the American Express Cobalt Card shines, giving you an estimated average rate of return of 4.5%. It’s a solid card in all of these categories.

American Express Cobalt Card – 4.50%

  • American Express Green Card – 2.75%
  • MBNA Rewards World Elite Mastercard – 2.60%
  • RBC Avion Visa Infinite – 2.36%
  • Scotiabank Gold American Express Card – 2.30%

Estimated insurance value

Recently, we embarked on a monumental and detailed study to determine the estimated insurance value for every credit card.

After crunching the numbers, here’s what we found: these seven travel rewards cards offer in terms of travel insurance.

  • RBC Avion Visa Infinite – $557
  • Scotiabank Gold American Express Card – $475
  • MBNA Rewards World Elite Mastercard – $449
  • American Express Cobalt Card – $410
  • American Express Green Card – $198

Estimated perks value

We also did a similarly massive and detailed analysis to determine the estimated value of credit card perks and benefits. Again, some of these perks aren’t worth a whole lot, but others can provide enormous value if you can take advantage of them.

  • Scotiabank Gold American Express Card – $172
  • RBC Avion Visa Infinite – $79
  • American Express Cobalt Card – $62
  • MBNA Rewards World Elite Mastercard – $55
  • American Express Green Card – $25

The perks of having a travel rewards credit card

If you want the best travel credit cards in Canada, paying an annual fee is pretty much inevitable. The top 10 range from $75 to $399 annually – but this is overshadowed by the valuable rewards, best-in-class insurance coverage, and drool-worthy perks like: